echo interview with Pascal Jenny, Director of the Arosa Tourist Board
elipsLife echo: Mr Jenny, what prompted Arosa Tourism to establish the Humour Festival? Are Arosa‘s inhabitants the funniest people in Graubünden?
Pascal Jenny: For us at Arosa, humour is an important topic and part of our day-to-day routine. That being said, the Humour Festival has a purely business rationale. About 30 years ago, Arosa created the so-called 'Wedel Weeks" for people who wanted to test their skis in the first snow at the beginning of December. When interest in the Wedel Weeks began to diminish, there was a search for alternatives. And because at that time comedy opportunities were cropping up, the idea was born to do something around the theme of comedy and humour. So 26 years ago, we founded the Arosa Humour Festival. This event now attracts around 20,000 visitors to Arosa.
Besides the Humour Festival, are there other reasons why we Swiss should spend our next vacation in Arosa?
Of course there are! In Arosa, we live in a kind of paradise. In the face-paced, hectic times we live in, Arosa has a number of attractive features to offer. Its location at the end of the valley, its special charm and the experience alone of travelling from Chur to Arosa via a road with 365 bends in it – all these factors together constitute the mystique of the village. In Arosa, you have the feeling that you're far removed from your daily routine. During the cold months of the year – thanks to its location 1,800 metres above sea level – the village offers an appropriate winter experience: no roads swept clean of snow, and from December to mid-February the whole village decked in white. Moreover, from June 2018, Arosa will be the only place in the Alps where you can watch bears in their natural environment.
Don't the events you're talking about run counter to the advertised classic features of an Alpine location, like a pristine mountain environment, hiking, nature and tranquility?
Not at all. Anyone staying in Arosa while one of our events is in progress notices straightaway that this question doesn't even arise. For example, every year at the end of August we stage the Arosa Classic Car exhibition. With around 170 antique vehicles on show and between 20 and 25,000 visitors, this is really our noisiest event. Now if you're in Arosa while this event is going on and looking at cars is not your thing, then inside 10 minutes you can escape to nature and perfect peace – in fact the total absence of engine noise and classic car nostalgia. And I should add that even those people that look for peace and quiet do crave entertainment from time to time.
What is the share of Swiss visitors to Arosa?
In recent years, we've been able to boost the share of Swiss visitors from around 60% to almost 70%. And this despite the perception that holidaying in Switzerland – also for Swiss nationals – is supposed to be expensive. Then we have 15% of visitors from Germany, 5% from the Benelux countries and 10% from all corners of the world. It's our foreign guests especially that appreciate our events. The annual Gay Week in January even attracts visitors from Australia, whereas our Classic Car show is a big draw for English tourists.